Category Archives: People of Interest

Caesar in Gaul: Makin’ Waves (56 BC)

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

If you are new to RAE, then welcome to the show. If you’ve been around before, then you probably have realized our fascination with the one and only Gaius Julius Caesar.

When we came across a way to share more about the man who was without a doubt so impactful on the Res Publica Romana (Roman Republic), and what would become the Imperium Rōmānum (Roman Empire) after his assassination, there was no way to pass it up.

So, without further ado, we bring to you Caesar’s Gallic Wars!

Vercingetorix Throws Down His Arms at the Feet of Julius Caesar, by Lionel Noel Royer (1899).


In case you missed our previous posts from Caesar’s invasions of Britain, you can check out Part I and Part II.

The Gallic Wars were a series of military campaigns waged by the Roman Proconsul Julius Caesar against several Gallic tribes. Rome’s war against the Gallic tribes lasted from 58 BC to 50 BC and culminated in the decisive Battle of Alesia in 52 BC, in which a complete Roman victory resulted in the expansion of the Roman Republic over the whole of Gaul (mainly present-day France and Belgium).

Although Caesar portrayed this invasion as being a preemptive and defensive action, most historians agree that the wars were fought primarily to boost Caesar’s political career and to pay off his massive debts. The Gallic Wars are described by Julius Caesar in his book Commentarii de Bello Gallico, which remains the most important historical source regarding the conflict.

We hope you enjoyed all the video presentations about Caesar. Be sure to check back with us soon for we never know who, or where, we’ll journey.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Caesar in Britain II – There and Back Again (54 BC)

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

If you are new to RAE, then welcome to the show. If you’ve been around before, then you probably have realized our fascination with the one and only Gaius Julius Caesar.

When we came across a way to share more about the man who was without a doubt so impactful on the Res Publica Romana (Roman Republic), and what would become the Imperium Rōmānum (Roman Empire) after his assassination, there was no way to pass it up.

So, without further ado, we bring to you Caesar in Britain – Part 2!

Caesar’s 2nd Invasion of Britain on the beachhead


In case you missed Part I, feel free to take a quick look back here.

During the course of his Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar invaded Britain twice. The original invasion, in late summer of 55 BC, would be considered unsuccessful, gaining the Romans little else besides a beachhead on the coast of Kent.

The next invasion did achieve more. The Romans installed a king, Mandubracius, who was friendly to Rome, and they forced the submission of Mandubracius’s rival, Cassivellaunus.

The bottom line was that no territory was conquered and held for Rome. Instead, all Roman-occupied territory was restored to the allied Trinovantes, along with the promised tribute of the other tribes in what is now eastern England.

As we all know, however, that would not be the end of Julius Caesar. He would go on to campaign in Gallia (Gaul), which we will share with you soon.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

From Centurion to Saint: The Path of Longinus

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

For our readers of the Christian faith, our Lenten journey is coming to an end. Hopefully  all of the prayer, doing penancerepentance of sins, almsgivingatonement, and self-denial was not too taxing.

Since it is Good Friday today, that means Easter Sunday is right around the corner. The stories of Easter and the Nativity of Jesus (aka Christmas) are easily the most recognizable, even for those not following the faith.

Keeping that in mind, today we take a look into the life of a man who played a part of the Easter story as we explore the life of Longinus!

Saint Longinus in Bom Jesus do Monte (Tenões, Portugal).

Longinus is a legendary name of Christian history given in medieval and some modern Christian traditions to the Roman soldier who pierced Jesus in his side with a lance, the Holy Lance (Lancea) during the Crucifixion. This act created the last of the Five Holy Wounds of Christ.

This individual, unnamed in the Gospels, is further identified in legend as the Centurion present at the Crucifixion, who testified “This man certainly was the Son of God.” But who was this Roman who left us with a single, very cool quote?

View of Cappadocian landscape

In tradition, he is called Cassius before his conversion to Christianity, and was said to be born in Cappadocia. However, an old tradition links the birthplace of Longinus with the village of Anxanum (Lanciano), Samnite territory, in today’s Abruzzo region of Central-Southern Italy.

Longinus did not start out as a saint, especially since no name for him was actually given in the Gospels. The name Longinus is instead found in the pseudepigraphal Gospel of Nicodemus that was appended to the apocryphal Acts of Pilate.

An early tradition, found in the 4th Century pseudepigraphal “Letter of Herod to Pilate“, claims that Longinus suffered for having pierced Jesus. He was supposedly condemned to a cave, where every night a lion came and mauled him until dawn. Every morning his body healed back to normal, in a pattern that would repeat till the end of time.

Later traditions turned him into a Christian convert, but as Sabine Baring-Gould observed:

The name of Longinus was not known to the Greeks previous to the patriarch Germanus, in AD 715. There is no reliable authority for the Acts and martyrdom of this saint.

Jesus’ side is pierced with a spear, Fra Angelico (circa 1440), Dominican monastery of San Marco, Florence.

The name is probably Latinized from the Greek lonche, the word used for the lance mentioned in John 19:34. It first appears lettered on an illumination of the Crucifixion beside the figure of the soldier holding a spear.

Written, perhaps contemporaneously, the name is in horizontal Greek letters, LOGINOS (ΛΟΓΙΝΟC). This was mentioned in the Syriac gospel manuscript illuminated by a certain Rabulas in the year 586 AD, housed in the Laurentian Library, Florence.

The spear used is now known as the Holy Lance, and even more recently as the Spear of Destiny, which was revered at Jerusalem by the 6th Century, although neither the Centurion nor the name Longinus were invoked in any surviving report. As the Lance of Longinus, the spear figures in the legends of the Holy Grail.

In some medieval folklore, such as the Golden Legend, the touch of Jesus’s blood cures his blindness:

Christian legend has it that Longinus was a blind Roman centurion who thrust the spear into Christ’s side at the crucifixion. Some of Jesus’s blood fell upon his eyes and he was healed. Upon this miracle Longinus believed in Jesus.

Veneration of Longinus

Longinus is said to have subsequently converted to Christianity after the Crucifixion, and returned to his home in Cappadocia where he made many conversions. He was sentenced to torture and death by beheading under the orders of Pontius Pilate, the Governor of the Roman Judaea who presided over the trial of Jesus and ordered his crucifixion.

The body of Longinus is said to have been lost twice. Its latter recovery was at Mantua in 1304, together with the Holy Sponge stained with Christ’s blood, wherewith it was told that Longinus had assisted in cleansing Christ’s body when it was taken down from the cross.

It was at this time that Longinus’ role was extended into an almost mythical state. The relic, corpuscles of alleged blood taken from the Holy Lance, enjoyed a revived cult in late 13th Century Bologna under the combined drive of the Grail romances, the local tradition of Eucharistic miracles, the chapel consecrated to Longinus, the Holy Blood in the Benedictine monastery church of Sant’Andrea, and the patronage of the Bonacolsi.

Frescoe of Longinus in Basilica of St Peter and St Paul (Vyšehrad, Prague).

The relics are said to have been divided and then distributed to Prague and elsewhere, with the body taken to the Basilica of Sant’Agostino in Rome. However, official guides of the Basilica do not mention the presence of any tomb associated with Saint Longinus.

It is also said that the body of Longinus was found in Sardinia. Greek sources assert that he suffered martyrdom in Gabala, Cappadocia.

Longinus’ legend grew over the. He is traditionally venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic ChurchEastern Orthodox Church, and several other Christian communions.

There are two categories of saints: martyr and confessors. A Christian martyr is regarded as one who is put to death for his Christian faith or convictions, while confessors are people who died natural deaths.

Longinus is venerated, generally as a martyr, in the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Armenian Apostolic Church. His feast day is kept on 15 March in the Roman Martyrology, which mentions him, without any indication of martyrdom, in the following terms:

At Jerusalem, commemoration of Saint Longinus, who is venerated as the soldier opening the side of the crucified Lord with a lance.

St. Longinus is the patron of Mantua which is where his relics are preserved. There is a patron for virtually every cause, profession or special interest, so prayers are considered more likely to be answered by asking a patron directly for intercession on their behalf.

Bernini’s statue of Saint Longinus (Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City).

The statue of Saint Longinus, sculpted by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, is 1 of 4 in the niches beneath the dome of Saint Peter’s BasilicaVatican City. A spear point fragment from the Holy Lance is also conserved in the Basilica.

It is helpful to be able to recognize Saint Longinus in paintings, stained glass windows, illuminated manuscripts, architecture and other forms of Christian art. Since artistic representations reflect the life or death of saints, or an aspect of life with which the person is most closely associated, Saint Longinus is represented in Christian Art wearing the uniform of a Roman soldier, and has a lance or spear in his hand.

In Irving Pichel‘s 1939 film, The Great CommandmentAlbert Dekker portrays Longinus as the commanding officer of a Roman Army company escorting a tax collector about Judea. Subsequently, he is converted to Christianity through the kindness of Joel bar Lamech and by his own experiences at Golgotha.

John Wayne as Longinus in The Greatest Story Ever Told.

In the George Stevens‘s 1965 film The Greatest Story Ever Told, Longinus is identified with the Centurion who professed, “Truly this man was the Son of God” on Golgotha. This moment of conversion was portrayed by John Wayne in a cameo role.

Longinus is a leading character in the 2005 4-issue comic The Light Brigade by DC comics. The comic takes place in 1944 during World War II and features an immortal Longinus doomed to walk the Earth to atone for his deed by fighting fallen angels and their allies.

Casca Rufio Longinus, in a popular series entitled Casca by Barry Sadler, accidentally ingests some of Christ’s blood after lancing him. He is condemned by Christ to walk the earth as a soldier until they meet again at the Second Coming.

Moriones Festival in Marinduque

Longinus and his legend are the subject of the annual Moriones Festival held during Holy Week on the island of Marinduque, the Philippines.

The “Moriones” are men and women in costumes and masks replicating the garb of biblical Roman soldiers as interpreted by local folks. The Moriones tradition has inspired the creation of other festivals in the Philippines where cultural practices or folk history is turned into street festivals.

The mask was named after the 16th and 17th Century Morion helmet. The masked and costumed penitents march around the town for 7 days searching for Longinus, scaring the kids, or engaging in antics or surprises to draw attention.

More from the Moriones Festival

The festival is characterized by colorful Roman costumes, painted masks and helmets, and brightly colored tunics. The towns of Boac, Gasan, Santa Cruz, Buenavista and Mogpog in the island of Marinduque become a gigantic stage.

We hope you enjoyed today’s journey from Soldier to Saint. Stop back again soon to see where we’ll be or what we’ll being doing.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Bunson, M. Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire. Facts on File, 1994. ISBN 0-8160-2135-X.

Clarke, Howard W. The Gospel of Matthew and Its Readers: A Historical Introduction to the First GospelIndiana University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-253-34235-X.

Godwin, Malcolm. The Holy Grail: Its Origins, Secrets & Meaning Revealed. Viking Penguin, 1994. ISBN 0-670-85128-0.

Sniadach, Keith. Relics of God: A Supernatural Guide to Religious Artifacts, Sacred Locations & Holy Souls. Keith Sniadach, 2010.

Torretto, Richard. A Divine Mercy Resource: How to Understand the Devotion to Divine Mercy. iUniverse, 2010.

John 19:34

Mark 15:39

Matthew 27:54

Cinco, Maricar. “Last of Moriones mask makers looking for heirs”. Philippine Daily Inquirer. 13 April 2014.

One of the Philippines most Colorful Festivals

The Reliquary of Saint Longinus

Catholic Forum: St. Longinus

St. Longinus

Catholic-Saints St. Longinus

Caesar in Britain (55 BC)

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

If you are new to RAE, then welcome to the show. If you’ve been around before, then you probably have realized our fascination with the one and only Gaius Julius Caesar.

When we came across a way to share more about the man who was without a doubt so impactful on the Res Publica Romana (Roman Republic), and what would become the Imperium Rōmānum (Roman Empire) after his assassination, there was no way to pass it up.

So, without further ado, we bring to you Caesar in Britain!

Edward Armitage’s reconstruction of the Caesar’s 1st Invasion


In the course of his Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar invaded Britain twice. The original invasion, in late summer of 55 BC, would be considered unsuccessful, gaining the Romans little else besides a beachhead on the coast of Kent.

This wouldn’t be the last Britannia saw of Julius Caesar, however. He’d be back for more, and we’ll be there to bring it to you.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

History vs. Cleopatra

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

If this is your first time here, thanks for stopping by. If you’ve been here before then you know the level of respect and admiration we have for the infamous Gaius Julius Caesar.

If you know anything about Caesar, then you are probably familiar with his time in Aegyptus (Roman Egypt). Even if you aren’t a fan of history you may have come across the play Caesar and Cleopatra written in 1898 by George Bernard Shaw, or the 1945 British Technicolor film Caesar and Cleopatra directed by Gabriel Pascal and starring Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh.

Having seen how history has portrayed the woman who supposedly brought an end to the Res Publica Romana (Roman Republic), we thought we’d journey into a fictional courtroom to view History vs. Cleopatra!

According to an article in National Geographic, this is what Cleopatra actually looked like.

View the full lesson here.

The world has been so fascinated by Cleopatra that her story has been told in various formats, aside from the one’s we previously mentioned.


The renowned  William Shakespeare wrote the tragedy Antony and Cleopatra which was originally performed circa 1607, and has since been turned into movies and operas.

Original theatrical release poster of Cleopatra.

In 1963, Elizabeth Taylor starred as the queen in the film Cleopatra. It was the highest-grossing film of 1963, earning $57.7 million total (equivalent to $451.38 million in 2017), yet made a loss due to its production and marketing costs of $44 million (equivalent to $344.20 million in 2017).

Then in 1970, a Japanese comedy anime film directed by Osamu Tezuka and Eiichi Yamamoto. The film was a commercial failure.

We all can agree that Cleopatra was the most notorious woman in ancient history, and was a queen who enraptured not 1 but 2 of Rome’s greatest Generals.

Was she just a skilled seductress? Or was Cleopatra a great ruler in her own right?

The question remains for you decide. We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure and look forward to having you back again soon.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Commodus and the Year of the Five Emperors: AD 180–193

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Since the Founding of Rome, there has been a wellspring of events that have impacted history. This was a great problem to have, providing for so many explorations and journeys.

Today we take a peek into a chapter of Roman History as we uncover Commodus and the Year of the Five Emperors!

The period of the “Five Good Emperors” was brought to an end by the reign of Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus (aka Commodus) from AD 180 to 192. The son of Marcus Aurelius, Commodus was the only direct successor in a century thus breaking the scheme of adoptive successors that had worked so well.

Bust of Commodus (Capitoline Museum)

Commodus was co-Emperor with his father from AD 177. When Commodus became sole Emperor upon the death of his father in AD 180, it was initially seen as a hopeful sign by the people of the Roman Empire.

Nevertheless, as generous and magnanimous as his father was, Commodus was just the opposite. In The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon, it is noted that Commodus initially ruled the Empire well.

Commodus’ sane rule began to fail when a close advocate, Cleander, was assassinated. This made Commodus start to fear for his life.

After an assassination attempt involving a conspiracy by certain members of his family, the mindset of Commodus went from paranoid slipping into insanity. The Pax Romana (Roman Peace) ended with the reign of Commodus.

In 1964’s “The Fall of the Roman Empire”, a fictionalized Commodus who serves as the main antagonist of the film is portrayed by Christopher Plummer.

He dealt with this fear through massacre of the nobles and aristocracy. He began removing himself from his identity as ruler ideologically by resuming his birth name instead of keeping the names that his father gave him when he succeeded to imperial rule.

One could argue that the assassination attempt began the long decline of the Roman Empire. Commodus planned a huge massacre in Rome for New Year’s Eve 192 AD, in which he killed many of the nobles so that he could become the sole Consul.

When Commodus’ behavior became increasingly erratic throughout the early 190s, an assassination plot was carried out by the Praetorian Prefect Quintus Aemilius Laetus, Commodus’ mistress Marcia, and his chamberlain Eclectus. The assassins named Pertinax the new Caesar.

The Year of the Five Emperors refers to the year 193 AD, in which there were 5 claimants for the title of Roman Emperor (Pertinax, Didius JulianusPescennius NigerClodius Albinus and Septimius Severus). This year started a period of civil war where multiple rulers vied for the chance to become Caesar.

Statue of Pertinax (National Museum of the Union, Alba-Iulia, Romania)

The political unrest began with the murder of Commodus on New Year’s Eve 192 AD. Once Commodus was assassinated, Pertinax was named Emperor but immediately had aroused opposition from the Praetorian Guard.

Pertinax gained his political clout by moving his way up the military ranks. He was Proconsul of Africa, making him the earliest of several emperors who began their political roles in Africa.

Since most of the nobles had been murdered in the New Year’s Eve massacre, Pertinax was one of the few high-ranking officials left to become the new Emperor. Pertinax had a tough road to climb when he became Caesar because Commodus left his regime with major financial difficulties.

Pertinax was a great contrast to Commodus. He was disciplined but lost the favor of the troops early since he took away all of the favors that Commodus gave them.

The Praetorian Guard plotted and carried out his assassination on 28 March. Pertinax was killed while resisting, having reigned as Emperor for just 3 months.

Coin of Didius Julianus

Didius Julianus was his successor as Caesar. Julianus also gained power as Proconsul of Africa, succeeding Pertinax in that position as well.

Julianus was not just given the position of Emperor after Pertinax’s death. He had competition in Pertinax’s father-in-law, Sulpicianus.

The only way that Julianus gained the Senate’s favor was by outbidding Sulpicianus for the amount he would pay the troops. Julianus was originally accused of being Pertinax’s murderer.

Two public figures used the public’s fear to take advantage of this crisis: Pescennius Niger, the Governor of Syria, and Septimius Severus. Twelve days after Pertinax’s murder, Severus was declared Caesar by the Senatus Romanus in place of Julianus.

Coin of Pescennius Niger

The mobs, who regarded Julianus unfavorably, called on Pescennius Niger for assistance. Julianus was executed on June 1, just 2 months after Pertinax was killed.

Niger ended up proclaiming himself Emperor, which further angered Severus. Niger had allies in the eastern part of the Empire so when Severus threatened him with troops, he gathered an army from his allies.

This started a 2-year civil war between Niger and Severus as both gathered troops and fought throughout the territory of the Empire. Due to this war Severus allowed Clodius Albinus to be co-Caesar so that Severus did not have to preoccupy himself with imperial governance.

Bust of Clodius Albinus (Capitoline Museums)

This move allowed him to concentrate on waging the war against Niger. It also served as a way for Severus to keep an eye on Albinus, whom he suspected as a threat to himself.

Niger eventually lost the civil war to Severus near the city of Issus.

Albinus came into contention for the imperial office in AD 193. Some sources say that the treaty between Severus and Albinus was only honorary and only benefited Severus, who only won because of Albinus’ support while not actually giving away any of his power as Emperor.

Albinus initially controlled Britannia and this treaty would have given him power over Gallia and Hispania. Albinus continued in this role as Caesar for 3 more years before a civil war broke out between him and Severus, resulting in Severus becoming the all-encompassing Emperor.

Alabaster bust of Septimius Severus (Capitoline Museum)

Some sources tie Severus and Pertinax together and call them allies, which would explain how Severus became so powerful during this chaotic year. Severus had originally wanted to take the throne after Commodus’ murder, but the haste with which the assassins named Pertinax Emperor prevented that from happening.

After he defeated both of his enemies, Severus got rid of their followers to imprint in the people’s minds that he was the all-encompassing Caesar. However, once he defeated Niger, he set his sights on his enemy Albinus and waged a civil war against him and eventually defeated him.

Most historians count Severus and Albinus as 2 Emperors even though they ruled simultaneously. The Severan Dynasty was created out of the chaos of 193 AD.

With that we neatly wrap up a period that those having lived it would like to all but forget. Even in our own troubled times, we still don’t have the chaos that was Rome’s 193 AD.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Adams, Geoff W. The Emperor Commodus: Gladiator, Hercules or a Tyrant? BrownWalker Press, 2013. ISBN 1612337228

Birley, Arthur R. Septimius Severus: The African Emperor. Routledge, 1999. ISBN 0415165911.

Brunt, A. “The Fall of Perennis: Dio-Xiphilinus 79.9.2”. Classical Quarterly, 23 (1973).

Burckhardt, JacobThe Age of Constantine the Great. University of California Press, 1949.

Hekster, Olivier. Commodus: An Emperor at the Crossroads. Brill, 2002. ISSN 0924-3550.

Howe, L. The Praetorian Prefect from Commodus to Diocletian (AD 180-305). Chicago, 1942.

Rahman, Abdur. “The African Emperor? The Life, Career, and Rise to Power of Septimius Severus, MA thesis”. University of Wales Lampeter, 2001.

Speidel, M.P. “Commodus the God-Emperor and the Army”. Journal of Roman Studies, 83 (1993).

Van Sickle, C.E. “Legal Status of Clodius Albinus, 193-96”Classical Philology. University of Chicago Press, April 1928. doi:10.1086/361015.


The History of the Romans: Every Year

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

From the Foundation of Rome through the Fall of the Byzantine Empire, there has been constant growth and change in what was the Roman Empire. With so much going on, how could you possibly know everything?

That issue gets decided today as we witness the History of the Romans: Every Year!

See the entire history and progression of Roman civilization from the city-state Kingdom all the way to the last Byzantine successor state.

This video was originally published on 31 December 2015, with musical credits of “Majestic Hills”, “Hero Down”, and “Teller of the Tales” all by Kevin MacLeod.

We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure, maybe you even learned something new or exciting. We look forward to having you join us again soon.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Mausoleum of Augustus: Restoration and Updates are Coming

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Have we got some big news for you. On 16 January 2017, it was shared that an Italian telecommunications company has contributed €6-million for its restoration.

The company was not named, unfortunately, but its director promising an elaborate multimedia show that will tell the story of Augustus and ancient Rome. If you care to read the article from The Telegraph you can do so here.

This got us excited about what lies ahead for the resting place of Augustus, Rome‘s 1st Emperor. Back on 6 June 2016, we wrote an article called Mausoleum of Augustus: Resting Place for Rome’s Original Emperor.

With all the good news we thought it’d be a perfect time to revisit the Mausoleum of Augustus!

Mausoleum of Augustus on the Campus Martius.

As we venture from East to West and from North to South, it’s always nice to just get back home. In this case we do not mean Texas, we are talking about Rome.

Location of the Mausoleum of Augustus in the Campus Martius on the banks of the Tiber.

The mausoleum is a large tomb built by the Emperor Augustus in 28 BC on the Campus Martius in Rome, Italy. The mausoleum is located on the Piazza Augusto Imperatore, near the corner with Via di Ripetta as it runs along the Tiber.

The grounds cover an area equivalent to a few city blocks, and nestle between the Church of San Carlo al Corso and the Museum of the Ara Pacis. The interior of the mausoleum is not open to tourists.

Original design for the Mausoleum of Augustus.

The mausoleum was one of the original projects initiated by Augustus following his victory at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. The mausoleum was circular in plan, consisting of several concentric rings of earth and brick, planted with cypress trees on top of the building and capped by a conical roof and a 15 ft-tall bronze statue of Augustus.

Vaults held up the roof and opened up the burial spaces below. The completed mausoleum measured 295 ft in diameter by 137 ft in height.

The arched entryway to the Mausoleum of Augustus.

A corridor ran from the entryway into the heart of the mausoleum. Here there was a chamber with 3 niches to hold the golden urns enshrining the ashes of the Imperial Family.

The traditional story is that in AD 410, during the sack of Rome by Alaric, the pillaging Visigoths rifled the vaults, stole the urns and scattered the ashes, without damaging the structure of the building. In the Middle Ages the tumulus was fortified as a castle— as was the mausoleum of Hadrian, which was turned into the Castel Sant’Angelo— and occupied by the Colonna family.

Inside Plan
Inside plan of the mausoleum.

After the disastrous defeat of the Commune of Rome at the hands of the Count of Tusculum in AD 1167, the Colonna were disgraced and banished, and their fortification in the Campo was dismantled. The area thus became a ruin.

Augustus – “I found a Rome of bricks; I leave to you one of marble.”

In the early 20th Century the Mausoleum of Augusts was made into a concert hall. It was not until the 1930s that the site was opened as a preserved archaeological landmark along with the newly moved and reconstructed Ara Pacis nearby.

The restoration of the Mausoleum of Augustus to a place of prominence was part of Benito Mussolini‘s ambitious reordering of the city. This stripping away of everything modern upon the ruins and monuments of Rome was his attempt to connect the aspirations of Italian Fascism with the former glories of the Roman Empire.

Mussolini viewed himself especially connected to the achievements of Augustus, seeing himself as a “reborn Augustus” ready to usher in a new age of Italian dominance. We all know Augustus, and that Mussolini was no Augustus.

Quirinal Fountain
Quirinal Fountain

Twin pink granite obelisks also once flanked the arched entryway, but have since been removed. One now stands at the Piazza dell’Esquilino (on the northwest side of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore) and the other at the Quirinal Fountain.

Even though the monument was to be the final resting place of The First Emperor, Augustus was not the original person laid to rest there.

Included among those whose remains were laid inside the mausoleum before the death of Augustus were: Marcus Claudius Marcellus, who was the 1st to be buried there in 23 BC; Marcus Agrippa in 12 BC; Nero Claudius Drusus in 9 BC; Octavia Minor, the sister of Augustus in 9 or 11 BC; then Gaius (4 AD) and Lucius (2 AD), grandsons and heirs of Augustus.

After the death of Augustus, the mausoleum hosted the ashes of: Livia, wife of Augustus; GermanicusAgrippina the Elder; Julia Livilla, Agrippina’s daughter; Nero, son of Germanicus; Drusus Caesar, son of Germanicus; CaligulaTiberius; Drusus Julius Caesar, son of Tiberius; Antonia Minor, mother of Claudius; Claudius; Britannicus, the son of Claudius; the embalmed body of Poppaea Sabina wife of Nero;  Julia Domna, who was later moved to the Mausoleum of Hadrian; and Nerva, the last Emperor for whom the mausoleum was opened.

Inside the mausoleum

At the original time of this article (almost a year ago) Rome Commissioner Francesco Paolo Tronca had approved a €6-million preliminary project to complete restoration work at the Mausoleum of Augustus. Funding was to serve to finish structural work on the monumental tomb including covering it, building a circular catwalk around it, and preparing it to open for public visits.

This commitment to restoring Rome’s historical monuments not only benefits tourism, but it also keeps alive remnants from a dominate world culture for future generations. Keeping Rome’s past intact benefits everyone.

Painting showing a contemporary view of the Mausoleum of Augustus.

With the Telecom Italia’s €6-million for restoration and upgrades, both inside and out, this monument should be a new tourist draw for Rome. Having once been 1 of the key monuments in the history of mankind, the Mausoleum of Augustus is set to reclaim that title.

Tourists will be immersed in the most sensational story of humanity, from imperial Rome to the beginnings of Christianity and the Baroque period,” said Giuseppe Recchi, the president of Telecom Italia.

We hope you enjoyed our trip to the Romani Patriae and look forward to having you back again. Make sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Dal Maso, Leonardo B. Rome of the Caesars. Bonechi: Florence, 1974.

Lanciani, Rodolfo. Pagan and Christian Rome. 1892. On-line.

Young, Norwood; P. Barrera. Rome and Its Story. J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd: London, 1951.

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The Constantinian Dynasty: Keeping the Empire Alive

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

As I attempt to bring the best possible content, especially during my hectic work and educational schedule, I have been trying to revisit previous articles in hopes of coming across new information. That did not happen today though.

Today we take a journey down a long, distinguished family tree as we explore the Constantinian Dynasty!

The Battle of the Milvian Bridge (1520–24) by Giulio Romano.

The Constantinian Dynasty was an informal name for the ruling family of the Roman Empire from Constantius I Chlorus to the death of Julian in AD 363. It is named after its most famous member, Constantine the Great who became the sole ruler of the Empire in AD 324.

The dynasty is also called Neo-Flavian because every Constantinian Emperor bore the name Flavius, similarly to the rulers of the original Flavian Dynasty in the 1st Century. In order to get the full flavor of this dynasty, however, we need to take a look a little farther back.

Laureate head of Diocletian (Istanbul Archeological Museum).

The accession on 20 November 284 of Diocletian, the lower-class, Greek-speaking Dalmatian commander of Carus‘s and Numerian‘s household cavalry, marked a major departure from traditional Roman constitutional theory regarding the Emperor. From the Principate through Diocletian’s accession, the Emperor was known as the Primus Inter Pares (First Among Equals).

Whereas before Emperors had worn only a purple toga and were greeted with deference, Diocletian wore jeweled robes and shoes. He even went so far as to require those who greeted him to kneel and kiss the hem of his robe.

In many ways, Diocletian was the initial monarchical Emperor, and this is symbolized by the fact that the word Dominus (Lord) rapidly replaced Princeps (First in Time or Order) as the favored word for referring to the Emperor. In short, the Dominate represents a time when the Emperors unabashedly showcased their status and authority compared to the earlier Principate.

The Dominate also featured a shift in the Empire’s “center of gravity” from the West (Rome) to the East (Constantinople), particularly after the establishment of Constantinople. Neither Diocletian nor his co-Emperor Maximian spent much time in Rome after 286 AD, establishing their Imperial capitals at Nicomedia and Mediolanum (modern Milan), respectively.

Constantius I Chlorus (Pushkin Museum)

The Constantinian Dynasty properly began with Constantius I Chlorus (Caesar AD 293, Augustus AD 305), an experienced Illyrian soldier and General. The Constantiniani were originally another family of “Barracks Emperors” that is they were proclaimed Emperor by the Legions they commanded.

The dynasty retained and reinforced the monarchical evolution of the Imperial dignity, and sponsored the pivotal Edict of Milan in AD 312. This extended official toleration to Christianity, which had previously suffered considerable persecution under recent Emperors.

Constantine I undertook major reforms of Imperial administration and military organization, founded a new Imperial capital at Constantinople on 8 November 324 AD, summoned the primary Christian Ecumenical Council (First Council of Nicaea in AD 325), and became the paramount Christian Emperor in AD 337.

Constantinian Emperors

Constantine the Great (Capitoline Museums)

Constantine I aka Constantine the Great (Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus): 324 – 337

Constantine was the son of Flavius Valerius Constantius (aka Constantius Chlorus), a Roman Army Officer, and his consort Helena. Acclaimed as Emperor by the Army at Eboracum (modern-day York) after his father’s death in 306 AD, Constantine emerged victorious in a series of civil wars against the Emperors Maxentius and Licinius to become sole ruler of both West and East by 324 AD.

Constantine the Great (mosaic in the Hagia Sophia)

Before Constantine’s death, he divided the Empire into 4 parts governed by Caesares, apparently intending to re-establish the Tetrarchy. He left most of the West to his son Constantine II, the East to his son Constantius II, Italia and the Upper Danube to his son Constans I, and Greece and the Lower Danube to his half-nephew Flavius Dalmatius.

Dalmatius was killed shortly after Constantine’s death. The Empire was then divided into 3 parts (Britannia, Hispania, and Gallia; Italia and Africa; and the East).


Constantine II as Caesar on top of the Cordonata (the monumental ladder climbing up to Piazza del Campidoglio), in Rome.

Constantine II (Flavius Claudius Constantinus Augustus): 337 – 340

Constantine II was Emperor of Britannia, Hispania, and Gallia. The eldest son of Constantine the Great and Fausta, after the death of his half-brother Crispus, Constantine II was born in Arles in February 316 AD and raised as a Christian.

In AD 340, Constantine II invaded Constans I’s territory in Italia. He was subsequently defeated and killed at Aquileia, and his provinces passed to the control of the brother whom he had attempted to displace.


Bust of Constans I (Louvre)

Constans I (Flavius Iulius Constans Augustus): 337 – 350

Originally Emperor of Italia and Africa, Constans I annexed the provinces of his late brother Constantine II in AD 340, and became Emperor of the whole West. Anger in the Army over the personal life of Constans and the preference for his barbarian bodyguards led the General Magnentius to rebel, resulting in the assassination of Constans in 350 AD.


Golden multiplus of Magnentius

Magnentius (Flavius Magnus Magnentius Augustus): 350 – 353

Not born from the bloodline of Constantine, Magnentius was a usurper who ruled the West after Constans. Magnentius’s defeat in AD 353 by Constantius II, the last of the brother Emperors, reunified the Empire under a single Emperor.


Bust of Constantius II from Syria (University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology).

Constantius II (Flavius Julius Constantius Augustus): 337 – 361

The 2nd son of Constantine and Fausta, Constantius II ascended to the throne as Emperor in the East. In AD 353, Constantius II defeated the usurper Magnentius at Lyon and became sole Emperor, again uniting West and East.



Julian on a bronze coin from Antioch.

Julian the Apostate (Flavius Claudius Iulianus Augustus): 355 – 363

Julian became Caesar over the western provinces by order of Constantius II in AD 355, and in this role campaigned successfully against the Alamanni and Franks. Most notable was his crushing victory over the Alamanni in 357 AD at the Battle of Argentoratum (Strasbourg), leading his 13,000 men against a Germanic army 3 times larger.

In AD 360, he was proclaimed Augustus in Lutetia Parisiorum (Paris) by his soldiers thus sparking a civil war between Julian and Constantius. Before the 2 could face each other in battle, however, Constantius died, after naming Julian as his rightful successor.


Dynastic relationships

The shrine to Saint Helena of Constantinople (aka Constantine’s mother) in St. Peter’s Basilica (Rome).

Constantius I Chlorus married twice. His earliest wife Helena bore him a son, Constantine I.

Constantine I’s 2nd wife Fausta (daughter of Maximian and Eutropia; sister of Maxentius; half-sister of Constantius I’s 2nd wife Theodora) bore him 3 sons (Constantine II, Constantius II, and Constans I) and 2 daughters (Constantina and Helena).

These children were nieces and nephews of Maxentius, half-nieces and half-nephews of Licinius (who had married their father’s half-sister), and grandchildren of Maximian.

Constantius I’s 2nd wife Theodora (stepdaughter of Maximian and half-sister of Fausta) bore him 2 sons (Flavius Dalmatius and Julius Constantius) and 2 daughters (Eutropia and Constantia, the wife of Licinius). Julius Constantius’s sons Constantius Gallus and Julian married Constantine I’s daughters by Fausta, Constantia and Helena, respectively.

Constantius II’s daughter Constantia married Gratianus (see below), the son of Valentinian I (see below).

Constantinian Family Tree

To summarize:

Constantius I Chlorus: father (and stepbrother-in-law) of Constantine I, grandfather of Constantine II, Constantius II, Constans I, and Julian the Apostate, father-in-law of Licinius, adopted son and stepson-in-law of Maximian, adoptive brother and half-brother-in-law of Maxentius

Constantine I: son (and stepbrother-in-law) of Constantius I Chlorus, son-in-law of Maximian, brother-in-law of Maxentius, half-brother-in-law of Licinius, father of Crispus, Constantine II, Constantius II, and Constans I, half-uncle and father-in-law of Julian the Apostate

Constantine II: son of Constantine I, grandson of Constantius I Chlorus, grandson of Maximian, nephew of Maxentius, half-nephew of Licinius, brother of Crispus, Constantius II, and Constans I, half-cousin and brother-in-law of Julian the Apostate

Constantius II: son of Constantine I, grandson of Constantius I Chlorus, grandson of Maximian, nephew of Maxentius, half-nephew of Licinius, brother of Crispus, Constantine II, and Constans I, half-cousin and brother-in-law of Julian the Apostate, father-in-law of Gratianus

Constans I: son of Constantine I, grandson of Constantius I Chlorus, grandson of Maximian, nephew of Maxentius, half-nephew of Licinius, brother of Crispus, Constantine II, and Constantius II, half-cousin and brother-in-law of Julian the Apostate

Julian the Apostate: grandson of Constantius I Chlorus, step-great-grandson of Maximian, step-great-nephew of Maxentius, half-nephew and son-in-law of Constantine I, half-cousin and brother-in-law of Constantine II, Constantius II, and Constans I

We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s climb through a most distinguished family tree. We look forward to having you back again for more adventures.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Moore, Scott. The Stemmata of the Neo-Flavian Emperors. DIR, 1998.

Moore, Scott. The Stemmata of the Emperors of the Tetrarchy. DIR, 1998.